This is a motion that we are submitting to the NUS National Executive Council (NEC) meeting next week (9th May): it asks for NUS to lend its support in the fight to save ULU, and also support the ongoing efforts of ULU and its constituent members building credible student representation across London universities and colleges.
Emergency motion to NEC: Save ULU and Promote London Representation
1. The University of London is threatening to close its students union, ULU, which represents more than 120,000 students across the city. This proposal is to close ULU from summer 2014 and replace it with a management-run student services centre.
2. The proposal is the culmination of a review, on which no student sat. Student union responses to the Review were largely (though not uniformly) positive, and ULU submitted a wide-ranging response to increase its representative capacity (which was cut almost entirely in 2007) and form the nucleus of a pan-London union.
3. The combined salaries of the Vice Chancellors of the University of London – the people who have the power to attack ULU and take away its resources – is £4.1m. ULU’s block grant is under £800k, most of which goes back to the University in rent.
4. There has been wide-ranging support for ULU from numerous quarters, including a large proportion of the London Assembly.
5. ULU has been proactive about building links with non-UoL CMs, and has called a meeting on May 16th to move towards establishing more formalised London-wide representation, and this has been well received by officers.
6. ULU has moved a long way to address the criticisms of the Review: it has overhauled its governance; more than tripled the number of officers; introduced a full-time Women’s Officer and autonomous Liberation Officers; and put in place measures that could increase its elections turnout tenfold in the coming year.
7. ULU has also pursued a wide array of pan-London campaigns, including the establishment of a tenants’ union; holding anti-cuts demonstrations; running a student rights at work campaign; campaigning on staff conditions; fighting for international students against immigration controls; and campaigning on Liberation. These campaigns have regularly involved non-UoL CMs, and ULU has a policy of viewing this participation as part of its core work.
NEC Further Believes
1. The proposed closure of ULU is an attack on student union autonomy and should be condemned.
2. This situation sets a dangerous precedent for unelected senior managers attacking and undermining unions and their independent services. It also raises a broader political point about student unionism in a marketised sector: we cannot rely merely on the good will of senior managers.
3. ULU is a valuable resource for the student movement in London that has been built up organically over decades. Broader networks of student unionists and activists in London have already started to form links. These links have taken years to build up, and the formation of any new structure should come from, and be owned by, these ongoing campaigns and conversations by CMs and ULU.
4. There is significant scope for a pan-London union to campaign on housing, transport and public sector cuts – all of which are particularly pressing in London. There is also a need for representation to the GLA.
1. To lend its support in the fight to save ULU: its building, resources and autonomy. This should include lobbying the University, all relevant governmental groups, and supporting direct action if students decide to take it.
2. To support the efforts of ULU and CMs in London to ensure that there is democratic, campaigning and credible student representation across London.